Leonard Greene: If Congressman Pants on Fire can get elected, then so can I

George Santos, R- N.Y., leaves the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 12, 2023, in Washington, D.C.. - Win McNamee/Getty Images North America/TNS

As much as I’ve enjoyed my career in journalism, and the perks that have gone along with it, like playing basketball with Barack Obama, or exclusive interviews with the last three popes, I find myself thinking about the next chapter and how best to serve the public.

The medical degree I earned while studying journalism could be useful in this ongoing battle against coronavirus, and my background in economics could help some think tank put together a strategy to effectively fight inflation.

But, frankly, I’m thinking something bigger, like public office.

Like Congress.

It’s like my grandfather, Sidney Poitier, used to say: “If you can’t do it big, then don’t do it at all.”

Oh, sure, I could go on writing newspaper articles. A third Pulitzer Prize would certainly look good on my resume.

But I need a new challenge. And while I appreciate Oprah Winfrey’s advice to just stay in my lane, my mind is made up.

I was born to serve.

I’m inspired, of course, by George Santos, the newly-elected Republican congressman from Long Island.

He’s not letting a few naysayers stand in his way. Even though his colleagues want to quibble about a few biological details, Santos — if that’s his real name — isn’t backing down from his commitment to his constituents.

According to reports, Santos, while on the campaign trail, stretched the truth about a number of personal details:

\-- His grandparents survived the Holocaust.

\-- His mother was in the World Trade Center on 9/11, and died from cancer a few years later.

\-- He was a volleyball star at Baruch College and led his team to a league championship.

\-- He ran an animal rescue charity that saved more than 2,500 cats and dogs.


At first it was the Democrats urging Santos to step down. One congressman, Rep. Ritchie Torres from the Bronx, even came up with a clever acronym for a bill designed to discourage truth stretchers from seeking elected office.

Torres calls it the Stop Another Non-Truthful Office Seeker Act.

That’s SANTOS for short.

“Santos is shameless not only in lying, but in lying about his lying,” Torres wrote in an op-ed for NBC News.

“It’s time for Santos to recognize that he cannot serve the public he defrauded. His ability to govern has been weakened by a complete collapse of credibility.”

Now, a growing number of GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill are calling for Santos to resign. Even so, that hasn’t stopped House Republican leaders from rewarding him with slots on two congressional committees.

“I have done nothing unethical,” Santos told reporters.

He insistshe won’t resign.

“I was elected by 142,000 people,” Santos said in a recent podcast. “Until those same 142,000 people tell me they don’t want me, we’ll find out in two years.”

Personally, I’m glad his mother wasn’t at the World Trade Center on 9/11 like he said. Who would wish that on anybody’s mother?

It’s like I was telling my buddy Prince Harry the other day. The “spare,” as he likes to call himself, has been catching it from critics, too.

“These people are just jealous,” I told him. “I mean, William is going to be king one day, while you…”

Well, he understood what I meant.

He’s still thanking me for ghostwriting the book.


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